Wendy Davis visited the University of Houston to give a speech detailing corrupt in the state of Texas. She appropriately excoriated Attorney General and Gubernatorial Candidate Greg Abbott his role in a sort of pay to play in Austin Texas.
She made the case why change is needed in Austin Texas. She presented reasons to elect her to move Texas forward.
Wendy Davis Delivers Address on Austin’s Culture of Corruption and Abbott’s Role in TEF Scandal
Davis: “It was Greg Abbott’s responsibility to make sure that the millions of dollars going to companies were resulting in jobs. Not only did he fail to do that, but he covered up the fact that they weren’t.”
Fort Worth – Today in Houston, Wendy Davis delivered an address on Austin’s culture of corruption in the wake of the Texas Enterprise Fund scandal. Below is the text of the speech as prepared for delivery:
“Nearly 150 years ago, our founding fathers made a promise to each of us, and they embedded it in our constitution. They told us. “All political power is inherent in the people, and all free governments are founded on their authority, and instituted for their benefit.” This simple line forever enshrined ideals of democracy in the hearts and minds of the people of this state.
They understood the power of average hardworking Texans to do great things as individuals to make our state even greater. They were the descendants of brave farmers, butchers, bakers and black smiths – everyday heroes – who were revolutionary enough to see that our futures and the future of our community were all wrapped up together, who were American enough to risk everything and fear nothing because they believed against all odds that they could defeat one of the world’s greatest powers and then did it.
So our Texas’ founding fathers made a vow. And as with every promise made before and ever since, that promise has been tested and challenged by the ever-present threat of selfishness, greed and corruption.
One of the earliest threats came in 1888 when railroad companies after they’d monopolized the economy and bribed politicians into doing their bidding at the expense of all Texans, prompting the Texas Attorney General Jame S. Hogg to file suit against them.
In the 1950s, as brave veterans of World War II worked to build a better life for themselves and their families, Roland Towery, the managing editor for the Cuero Record, uncovered a scam that lured veterans into buying land they never knew they owned and didn’t know they had to pay for.
When Towery contacted the Texas Land Commissioner, he denied any wrongdoing. But investigators later found that not only had he been involved in the scandal but that he’d pocketed tens of thousands of dollars from the crime. He became Texas’ first state official to be convicted and jailed for corruption.
Twenty years later, on January 18, 1971, Texas politics was turned upside down when news broke of a scandal that ended the careers of the Governor, the Speaker of the Texas House, state representatives and legislative aides. Texas’ top lawmakers had partnered with Houston banker and financier Frank Sharp in a bribery scheme that lined the pockets of lawmakers while they pushed through bills that lined his.
These stories from our past represent the worst examples of a creeping culture of corruption that permeates the insider network in Austin, demonstrating that those in power are still using greed and their self-interest to shortchange hardworking Texans and sell out their future.
Texas is at a turning point, and this election will determine if we can continue to lead in the 21st century or not. This election will determine whether you will have a governor who will fight for hardworking Texans every single day and who will build an economy that works for you or whether you will have a governor who is an insider working for other insiders at your expense.
From the moment I took the oath of office for the Fort Worth City Council 15 years ago, I have fought for hardworking Texans and against the corruption that causes them to question their faith in government and doubt the power of their own voices.
During my time on the City Council, I led the way in making sure we used our economic development funds to create jobs for the people they were intended to help. When we invested your tax dollars in our private partners and they didn’t hold up their end of the bargain, I made sure they had to pay that money back to you.
As a state senator, I worked to hold the oversight committee of the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute accountable. As soon as I saw that there wasn’t enough oversight, I helped pass a bill that made the fund more transparent so the public and the press could see if taxpayers’ money was going where it was supposed to and doing the job it was supposed to do.
And I fought to restructure the institute’s leadership, to ensure that grants aren’t approved without peer review and to make certain that the institute’s employees are prohibited from having professional relationships with those who received grants.
I chose to run for Governor because I believe that the old insider network in Austin has taken Texas as far as it can. I believe that their dealings undermine our ability to give our children the education they deserve; that they break our promise not to waste taxpayer dollars; and that we need a renewed effort, like generations of Texans before us, to root out the culture of corruption that is shortchanging hardworking Texans and selling out their future.
Because the creeping corruption that victimized veterans after World War II is the same kind that caused our Attorney General to accept $300,000 from payday lenders and give them the green light to victimize veterans today by charging them more than three or four times what credit card companies charge.
It’s the same kind of creeping corruption that caused him to accept $100,000 from the Koch family and Koch Industries, a chemical company, and then deny you the right to know if there are hazardous chemicals near your homes and schools. The only reason you don’t know if there are deadly chemicals stored in your neighborhoods is Greg Abbott. And on Tuesday we learned that one in three Texas students go to a school that’s within range of a hazardous chemical zone.
And it’s the same creeping culture of corruption that led Greg Abbott to take $700,000 from Farmers Insurance, its lawyers and its lobbyists to protect their interests while they gouged millions from homeowners.
That led him to accept nearly half a million dollars from his donors and then prompted him to abdicate his role on the cancer research oversight committee and look the other way while they got tens of millions in taxpayer dollars for cancer research despite the fact that their applications were never even reviewed or given low scores.
That caused him to accept $350,000 from the chairman of a Texas hospital and intervene in court against the victims of a surgeon who maimed, paralyzed and even killed patients while he was high on cocaine, even though the hospital knew the surgeon had a history of misconduct but let him keep operating anyway.
And the only reason why we know about the culture of corruption in the Texas Enterprise Fund is because of a bill I authored to audit it and protect taxpayer money for the first time since the fund was created.
Just last week, an auditor discovered that roughly 200 million of your tax dollars had gone to companies for job-creation grants that they had never even applied for. Then we learned that the Attorney General had taken over one million dollars from companies that benefitted from the fund.
And on top of it, Mr. Abbott denied the media access to applications, saying they contained proprietary information, when in reality, the applications did not even exist.
The problem in Texas isn’t that we used economic development tools to create jobs; the problem is that the insiders are using our economic development funds to line each other’s pockets instead of using them to create the jobs they were supposed to for hardworking Texans.
This scale of abuse and sophisticated corruption today is shocking. Too many insiders are turning Texas into an ATM where donors and contributors and allies put thousands of dollars in the form of campaign contributions and then take out millions more of your tax dollars.
Greg Abbott is our Attorney General. He is our state’s chief law enforcement officer. He is supposed to be the people’s lawyer. And it was his responsibility to make sure that the millions of dollars going to companies were resulting in jobs. Not only did he fail to do that, but he covered up the fact that they weren’t.
The late, great poet Maya Angelou once said that “when someone shows you who they are, believe them.”
Over and over, time after time, Greg Abbott has shown us that he is part of that old insider network looking out for insiders, a key player in that creeping culture of corruption, shortchanging hardworking Texans and selling out our future.
It’s time to return our government in Austin back to the people like our Constitution called for. And when I’m elected Governor, I will be swift. I will be vigilant, and I will put an end to the corruption that has held back hardworking Texans for far too long.
I will start by requiring a review of wasteful corporate tax loopholes to determine if they’re being used to pay back insiders and donors.
I will close the revolving door that lets officials leave office and immediately lobby on issues in which they’d specialized in their official capacity because it creates too much of an incentive for lawmakers to corrupt their offices.
And I will create greater transparency by requiring all government contracts to be disclosed.
This election can be different than all the rest. This time we can create a 21st century education system for our sons and daughters. This time we can create more high-paying jobs and strengthen our communities. This time we can stop the injustices that roll back our rights at the ballot box and offer nothing more than a false choice between our freedoms and our protections. This time the battle is in our hands.
Because this election will determine if Texas will work for hardworking Texans like each and every one of you each and every day.
The eyes of the nation are upon us. They’re watching to see if we’ll stand up for ourselves in this election and speak out for what we know is right.
They’re watching to see what message we’ll send to the world about our Texas values, our Texas will and the power of our own voices.
So if you believe like I do that no matter who you are, what you look like or where you come, that shouldn’t determine how far you can go.
If you believe like I do that we have a responsibility to make sure every single one of our sons and daughters can stand on a stage just like this one some day, tell their story and say, “I made it.” To say, “My state believed in me. My state did not write me off.”
If you believe like I do that if we don’t accept that responsibility, then nothing else matters, join me in this fight.
And when we win in November, please know this: when you’re at the office, working late… when you’re trying to find money to pay your son or daughter’s college tuition, please know that there’s someone in the Capitol who is fighting for you – that your voice is there.
You won’t need a high-paid lobbyist to represent you because I will be thinking about you. Because I am you. Because I have never forgotten who I am and where I come from and because I will fight for you every single day.